The Afternoon Meal (La Merienda)

Luis Meléndez Spanish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 641

This still life by Meléndez is exceptional in its format and composition. The setting in a luscious landscape is also unusual for him; his compositions are usually set against stark backgrounds. The painting is similar to a series of four which were painted for the Nuevo Cabinete de Historia Natural of the Prince of Asturias (now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid). It is likely that the Museum’s still life originally had a pendant canvas of the same size, with a landscape. The presence of a picnic basket justifies the title of The Afternoon Meal (in Spanish, La Merienda).

Meléndez’s refined still life embodies an elegant, courtly mode of eighteenth-century Spanish painting. It dates from the moment that he received a commission of forty-four still lifes to decorate the royal palace and former hunting lodge of Aranjuez. This painting is exceptional, however, for its grand size and the inclusion of a luscious landscape. A picnic basket justifies the work’s traditional title, The Afternoon Meal (in Spanish, La Merienda), and evokes aristocratic excursions away from Madrid’s summer heat, while the local produce and traditional cookware deliberately ennoble Spanish culture.

The Afternoon Meal (La Merienda), Luis Meléndez (Spanish, Naples 1716–1780 Madrid), Oil on canvas

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.